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Discussion Starter #1
There was recently a thread about tail position and it said that curled up tail meant tne dog was dominant. Today while walking Ranger I realized that his tail was curled up the whole time. The only time it went down was when he stipped to sniff stuff. We didn't meet anyone on the walk so I didn't get a chance to see what he did when neeting a dog or person. I am pretty sure his tail goes straight out (not down) when he meets a person or dog. He has never growled at anyone or any dog and he rarely barks should I be concerned that there could be dominance issues? Is there anything I can do to reduce his dominant behavior or is that just who he is? I must confess I have been lax in the training lately. Would that help reduce this behavior? Is a curled up tail even anything to worry about.

Ranger turned 1 year old earlier this month.

Thanks.
 

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I don't think you need to reduce anything. He is confident, and that is a good thing.
Step it up with the training, channel his confidence, and you will have a great dog.
 

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Some dogs just carry their tail up high - it's called a gay tail. There is always danger in looking at only one isolated body language indicator out of context and applying labels to the dog.

A tail carried high during a walk may mean that the dog has a gay tail, or is happy and excited, or stimulated and on alert. May not have anything to do with dominance, and no need to start viewing one's dog as 'dominant' - then all interactions become colored and twisted out of shape through the 'dominant' label applied to the dog.

Dominance is always relative - get two submissive dogs together, and one will be more dominant over the other and may raise his tail higher upon meeting and interacting. Yet still a submissive dog, just establishing dominance in that situation, over that particular dog.

From what I remember reading about Ranger, he is a nice, well balanced, easy-going dog. I don't think you have to worry about him being dominant, you can just relax and enjoy him.

Even with dogs that are in general dominant over other dogs, it does not necessarily mean that the dog will try to be dominant over the human owner.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Sunflowers. My gut tells me that while he is not a mild mannered, easy going, sort of guy (ie, he will be keeping me on my toes) he does have a pretty even temperament. He seems to be pretty confident and sometimes a little willfull but so far, never aggressive. Lately he has been a little too exuberant, occasionally jumping and frequently putting a hand in his mouth (without biting down), so I think I need to step up the training and excercise.
 

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this is probably a function of the dog's conformation and tail set . putting hand in mouth (without biting down) is being social - don't correct , just know what it is and remove the opportunity and be social with him in a way that you want.
 

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Engage him on walks. Have him do a sit or down. Talk to him. Keeping his attention on you prevents him from running around with his tail up, looking for engagement with others instead of you.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Castlemaid. I siad it in the previous post that he will keep us on our toes, but I guess I am already starting to look at him as dominant which I probably shouldn't. He doesn't listen every time and when our backs are turned he "steels" dirt socks and undies out of the laundry, but I guess those are minor offenses for a dog that just turned 1 so I shouldn't be saying he isn't easygoing. He is a working dog so he instinctively is paying attention to his surroundings rather than depending on me to tell him everything. He still relaxes on his dog bed really well and loves hugs and kisses from everyone - even strangers - so I guess he is easy going for a herding dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Carmen, i know that the mouthing thing is social, but visitors that are not dog people are put off. It is also those very visitors that he tends to jump on - very embarrassing. It doesn't happen often, but even once is unacceptable. I seemed to have gotten the jumping and mouthing thing under control and they just seem to have resurfaced in the past couple weeks. He jumps on me every morning when I let him out of my daughter's room. I tell him to sit, and he does, then he goes wiggle crazy and just jumps. He also jumps when I hug my husband.
 

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If you view things as expressions of dominant then you may create problems . Hard to say too much . Is the dog confident , basically neutral to new experiences , doesn't hackle or become defensive or avoid, then that is very good. A confident dog will raise the tail so that it is on level with the back bone , exposing the vent which circulates his personal scent announcing he is here . A shy dog or one that lacks confidence will clamp the tail to cover the vent and reduce his scent , diminishing his presence. A dog that is worried can clamp that tail so tight that it is difficult to pry away . This can be a problem because with heat and moisture and pressure you increase the risk of fecal matter being tamped down , caught in any crevice , leading to anal fissures and infections.

So that open tail area is good.

Does the tail curve over the back , become rigid like a flag pole or open and out parallel to the back?

This is an ideal time to join an obedience class . Give the dog some tasks to perform .
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sunflowers, the problem is when I am walking my other dog at the same time. I have not figured out how to train Ranger when he is with his older brother and I feel guilty leaving older brother behind because he gets jealous. Still i need to do it more often because Ranger needs more one on one time for training.
 

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. I have not figured out how to train Ranger when he is with his older brother and I feel guilty leaving older brother behind because he gets jealous.
You can't. You have to think of them as dogs, not older brother and younger brother :)

Your older dog got plenty of walks by himself before Ranger showed up, so he is due for some home alone time. He will be just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Carmspack, when he is walking the first 6 inches or so of tail is straight out from his body even with his back bone and then the rest curls up over the part of the tail that is extended straight out. His hackles are not up and his mouth is opened with his tongue hanging out. He seems very alertand very happy.
 

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but that is good !!! He is relaxed . Not asserting some dominance display. That would be tail up, like the flag pole, rigid , vibrating like a rattlesnake , and be accompanied with other signaling postures and facial expressions.

this is really good . the last curl at the bottom runs in some lines. The tail looks like a J . Usually the tail is on the longer side. When the tail is totally down that last bit may curl to one side .

so don't change anything there .

meeting guests at your house that are not dog people is easy enough -- give them time and space without dog exposure --
this is simple management . The over enthusiasm in greeting will subside with time , especially when people are neutral to his greeting , not responding either way. He will see that his behaviour is non-productive and will resort to something else, which you are going to show him.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I am kind of laughing at myself right now because I never refer to them as brothers so I am not even sure why I did it here. Guess for some reason I just was trying to avoid using his name. The older dog is Buzz and he is not happy that we added a young pain in the ### to the family. His sad brown eyes make that more than clear. Still I need to ignore those eyes and get down to business with Ranger again.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Carmspack, thanks so much. I think I am looking for trouble where there is none. Itis just that people are afraid of him because he is a GSD so I just feel like he has to be extra extra good. As I said I have been less diligent with the training lately so I am seeing some slip ups in his behavior. I guess I just need to get back on track with the training.
 

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I am kind of laughing at myself right now because I never refer to them as brothers so I am not even sure why I did it here. Guess for some reason I just was trying to avoid using his name. The older dog is Buzz and he is not happy that we added a young pain in the ### to the family. His sad brown eyes make that more than clear. Still I need to ignore those eyes and get down to business with Ranger again.
Buzz should get one on one time, too:).
 

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If he does this to visitors whom he also jumps on it looks to me like it is a challenging behavior.
None of my dogs has ever done this to me and I have a good social bond with them.
I would not accept this from my dogs.
 

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bad manners, over excitement , over exuberance yes . challenging , only in that the OP will need to make some changes, but not an attitudinal thing with desires to take over or pull rank.
a little off-centre from what a gsd is supposed to be like , but by far the better option opposed to the shy dog who is defensive .
this you can correct with some guidelines because the basic temperament is good .

just like some people are more gregarious and jovial, then there are others who are sober and reserved .
 

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I think the GSD comes with so much baggage as a breed that perspective and balance is lost.

Judge the dog in front of you.

This goes to vets that won't service your dog because it is a gsd or asks that the dog be muzzled , because it is a gsd, not because the dog has a problem or has ever given any cause for concern. This goes to owners who at 8 , 10 weeks of take actions to prevent their dog from becoming dominant taking every gesture as a sign . That takes away from the natural relationship that could develop . Friendly, co-operative , which is what I thought pet ownership should be to get that enjoyment . It shouldn't be a sentence to endure , from either party.
 
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